Do you dream of duck dumplings? Crave creme brulee? Lust for lamb chops? If your daily meals are more an expression of joy than a simple act of survival, you may be a ‘foodie’. But it’s not a dire diagnosis and you’re far from alone.
We think sampling authentic local foods is one of the best and most rewarding parts of travel, which is why we’ve curated seven must-visit destinations for the passionate foodies among us.
1. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka doesn’t just dazzle travellers with its stunning natural beauty. Visitors are quickly spellbound by the colourful décor of its charming restaurants and full-flavoured local fare.
But make sure you’ve got a glass of water handy because the ingredient of the day is always spice. Curries with chicken, beef, fish and goat are the specialty in the subcontinent, and chutneys and sambols (a traditional Sri Lankan dish made from coconut) often pack a punch for unsuspecting westerners.
Kottu Roti is a delicious and authentic Sri Lankan dish that won’t have you steaming at the ears. Roti, a type of flat bread, is chopped with large knives and mixed with chicken, fish and other meats.
Visitors will hear a chorus of rhythmic chopping waft from the doorways of restaurants as Kottu is prepared for salivating Sri Lankans and sightseers alike.
If you’re concerned about tummy trouble or have a sensitive stomach, stay on the safe side and avoid eating food from street vendors when you’re in developing regions such as South Asia.
For many of us, there’s just one thing that comes to mind when dreaming of a cold Irish evening: Guinness. But what food should you pair with a pint of black gold?
Irish cuisine is defined by hearty, feel-good meals that warm the belly enough to bare the unforgiving cold outside. Stews, vegetables and breads are traditional staples, and while more contemporary options are popular in tourist hotspots like Galway, Irish food has more or less stayed within these walls.
Coddle is an authentic working-class dish that is sure to suit any evening in an Irish pub. It’s traditionally made with the week’s leftovers like pork sausage, bacon rashers, sliced potatoes and onions, and is a long-time favourite of holidaymakers. Even modern Irish restaurants feature deluxe coddle dishes.
Believe it or not, there’s more to Italy than pizza. Many of us are familiar with the colourful cuisine of Italy, and some of us have left a lick of bolognese sauce on our chin at one point or another.
But to truly experience the best food Italy has to offer, you probably won’t find it at your local Italian restaurant. Italian chefs are passionate about finding the most flavoursome and fresh ingredients, which are sourced locally and vary by region.
Lasagna, prosciutto, gelato and spaghetti are all Italian dishes we know and love, but what can we try that will really impress? Tiramisu - a real tiramisu - can be the exclamation point on a meal that you’ll remember forever.
The coffee flavoured dessert is found in supermarkets around the world, but you’ll never settle for a pre-packaged version from the supermarket again after tasting the real thing.
Like Italy, it’s easy for us to assume that Japanese cuisine is a one-trick pony. Rice, miso soup, udon noodles and of course, sushi, are the Japanese staples that the world has fallen in love with. In fact, throw a stone in any direction in any major city and it’s likely it’ll land in a popular sushi-train restaurant.
Sushi chefs, or itamae, have to complete years of rigorous training before they graduate from even an apprentice level. Although the dishes might appear simple, the intricacies of a perfectly crafted sushi roll need a trained and delicate hand to master.
Tempura is a must-try Japanese classic for travellers. Seafood or vegetables are battered in wheat flour and lightly fried, resulting in a tasty, fluffy and crisp texture. There are a number of seafood tempura dishes, but for something that’ll melt in the mouth, we recommend trying a fresh scallop tempura.
The beauty of American food is that every state offers a different culinary delight. From shrimps and grit in the deep south to hot dog stalls in New York, the variety is immense.
Americans also know how to enjoy the sweeter side of life with dishes such as deep-fried Mars Bars and deep-fried butter. But when it comes down to their signature dish, the USA know how to hit the spot when it comes to a good hamburger. And we’re not talking about a $2 cheeseburger from McDonald’s.
Why not indulge at the famous Burger Brasserie in Las Vegas? For the modest price of $777 USD you can treat your taste buds to the *777 Burger, which includes kobe beef, maine lobster, seared foie gras, 100-year-aged balsamic vinegar and a bottle of Dom Perignon Rose champagne to wash it all down.
Thai cuisine is so internationally popular that chances are you’ve got a few Thai food takeaway containers hanging around the kitchen at home. The strong and aromatic flavours is the trademark of Thai cuisine, with rice, noodle and vegetable dishes accompanied by distinct herbs and spices.
For a Thai food experience you’ll never forget, indulge in a feast of modern Thai cuisine at the famous Bo Lan restaurant in Bangkok. The restaurant has been named as one of the best restaurants in the world, and consistently impresses locals and visitors alike.
Though it may be the quintessential Thai dish, we believe you can’t beat a good Pad Thai. The stir-fried rice noodle dish is usually served with seafood, chicken or beef, and is commonly sold as a street food.
Again, travellers should use care when buying street food, no matter how tasty it may smell! If you are buying from a street vendor, watch the way they prepare the food so you know that everything you eat has been prepared fresh and is fully cooked. Pay attention to detail, if a stall looks messy and unclean, it might be a good indication that the food won’t be up to scratch!
Wake up late, a quick cafe con leche (coffee with milk), a long lunch, afternoon siesta, light tapas and wine followed by a late dinner - what’s not to love about eating your way through Spain?
Spanish cuisine is all about colour: the vibrant orange of fresh prawns, rich red of cured meats and glistening gold of thick olive oil. Tapas tours are popular for visiting foodies who delight in the perfect balance of small, delicate meals and sweet ciders and wines.
It’s hard to look past the top quality seafood used in Spanish cuisine. Pulpo a la Gallega is a popular local dish, with tender octopus cooked whole, and seasoned with olive oil, paprika and salt.
Food rules in developing countries
It’s easy to become overcome with excitement by the fragrant aromas of exotic cuisines when you’re a travelling food-lover. While we encourage all of you to explore the culinary delights of your destination, it’s important you use a critical nose when deciding what foods are safe to eat.
After all, nothing spoils a great dining experience like falling sick from the very thing you love!
A few important things to remember when ordering food:
- Raw food can be risky – avoid raw fruit, salads, vegetables, meat and seafood.
- Only drink water from a sealed bottle and ask for no ice in drinks.
- Stick to meat that is served hot and fresh – it’ll taste best and be safest from germs.
- Be cautious of street food or restaurants where you can’t see the kitchen.